Jackfruit Carnitas

This jackfruit carnitas recipe delivers the very best flavors in Mexican food. Jackfruit is cooked with spices until tender and then transferred to a skillet, gently teased apart with a fork, and then panfried until golden brown on the bottom. It’s a juicy, flavorful combination of flavors and textures to keep you coming back for more!

A plate holds jackfruit carnitas with a bowl of salsa and some jalapeños in the background.

Made with all-natural ingredients, like jackfruit, you can make jackfruit carnitas in minutes and find yourself enjoying it on tacos or your favorite plant-based Mexican dishes. Better yet, this recipe can be frozen, meaning you can make it ahead and serve it with your favorite toppings, such as corn salsa and vegan guacamole.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Jackfruit has a neutral taste that takes on the flavors of the things it’s cooked with
  • Adding orange juice infuses hints of citrus flavor
  • The perfect combination of spices, including cumin and taco seasonings, makes this a go-to favorite Mexican topping
  • Pan-frying the carnitas adds caramelized flavor and crispy texture!
Ingredient for jackfruit carnitas are on a white table. The labels next to each ingredient reads, soy sauce, orange, jalapeño, jackfruit, garlic, onion, olive oil, and spices.

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Jackfruit — You’ll need one 20-ounce can of young green jackfruit in brine.
  • Olive oil — Any neutral oil will work, such as olive oil or avocado oil.
  • Onion — I used a yellow onion, but you can use white or red onion.
  • Soy sauce — You can use soy sauce or substitute gluten-free tamari
  • Jalapeño — You’ll need one jalapeño.
  • Garlic — This recipe uses 4 cloves of garlic.
  • Orange juice — You can use fresh-squeezed orange juice or bottled.
  • Spices — You’ll need salt, dried oregano, ground cumin, and taco seasoning

Ingredient Spotlight

A glass bowl holds several pieces of canned jackfruit.

What is Jackfruit?

Jackfruit comes from a tree in the mulberry tree family. The jack tree produces large, bright green fruit with fibrous meat that is rather neutral in flavor. Finding and cooking the entire fruit can be expensive and time-consuming. I recommend using canned jackfruit because it’s easier and more affordable. Look for young green jackfruit in the brine and avoid jackfruit in syrup because its texture and taste are not suitable for savory recipes where you’ll be using it to replace meat. Jackfruit has a flaky texture when cooked, making it a great meat substitute. It’s also low in carbs and provides plenty of nutritional value. You can find canned jackfruit in health food stores, the international section of some grocery stores, and online.

How to Make Jackfruit Carnitas

  1. Drain the liquid from the can of jackfruit and cut the chunks into thin slices.
  2. Cook onions and jalapeño over medium heat until tender.
  3. Add the jackfruit to the pan and cook for several minutes to allow the jackfruit to release its juices.
  4. Stir in the garlic, soy sauce, orange juice, and spices and cook until the jackfruit becomes tender.
  5. Break the jackfruit down into smaller, flaky pieces.
  6. Transfer jackfruit to a heated, oiled skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides.

Here are more detailed instructions with step-by-step photos:

Step One: Cook Jackfruit with Spices

  1. Drain the liquid from the can of jackfruit. Cut the jackfruit into thin slices.
  2. Place a saucepan over medium heat and add the onions and jalapeno and cook for up to 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add the jackfruit to the pan and cook for several minutes to allow the jackfruit to release its juices.
  4. Stir in the garlic, soy sauce, orange juice, and spices and cook for 10 to 15 minutes over medium-low heat until the jackfruit becomes tender.
  5. Use a spatula or a fork to break the jackfruit down into smaller, flaky pieces.
Looking down on a saucepan that holds jackfruit being cooked with spices.

Step Two: Brown Carnitas in a Skillet

Heat oil in a skillet and add the jackfruit carnitas. Let it cook for several minutes to brown on one side. The key here is to give it time to turn a golden brown before using a spatula to turn it. Feel free to add a little bit more oil if you prefer it even crisper.

A skillet holds jackfruit being browned.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Can carnitas be vegan?

Carnitas translates into “little meat” and traditionally features pulled pork that has been slow-cooked in oil with spices. That said, thanks to jackfruit, it’s easy to make plant-based carnitas that has the same flaky texture and amazing seasonings.

Do I have to brown jackfruit carnitas in a skillet?

Yes! The secret to the very best vegan carnitas is that you must brown them in a skillet. Of course, you can serve them without browning, but when you’re ready for over-the-top amazing, browning is a must!

Three jackfruit tacos are on a plate with a jalapeño beside them. There is a bowl of salsa, a lime, and some fresh cilantro leaves in the background.

Serving Suggestions

I love serving jackfruit carnitas on my Vegan Tacos. It’s a go-to favorite topping. Besides, this recipe freezes well, which means you can make a double batch and have impromptu taco nights any day of the week.

You can also serve carnitas on Vegan Enchiladas, Black Bean Burritos, and my Vegan Taco Casserole. It’s also amazing stuffed inside Vegan Empanadas. I also love tossing them along with some Spanish Quinoa. Add some Corn Salsa and Vegan Guacamole, and Air Fried Tortilla Chips and you’ve got yourself a feast!

Storage Tips

Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. You can freeze it in appropriate freezer-safe containers or bags for up to 2 months.

Looking down on 3 jackfruit carnitas tacos with jalapeños on both ends. Threre are bits of chopped cilantro around the tacos.

Vegan Mexican Meals

If these jackfruit carnitas have whetted your whistle for even more plant-based Mexican meals, be sure to check these out:

Three jackfruit tacos are on a plate with a jalapeño beside them. There is a bowl of salsa, a lime, and some fresh cilantro leaves in the background.

Jackfruit Carnitas

Make this plant-based jackfruit carnitas recipe to serve with your favorite Mexican dishes, like vegan tacos, tostadas, burritos, and more. Carnitas are crispy, juicy and so flavorful! The trick is pan-frying before serving. See FAQs after the recipe.
5 from 1 vote
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 139kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 20 oz can Jackfruit (young green in water)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning

Instructions

  • Drain the liquid from the can of jackfruit. Cut the jackfruit into thin slices.
  • Place a saucepan over medium heat and add the onions and jalapeno and cook for up to 5 minutes, until tender.
  • Add the jackfruit to the pan and cook for several minutes to allow the jackfruit to release its juices. Stir in the garlic, soy sauce, orange juice, and spices. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes over medium-low heat until the jackfruit becomes tender. You should be able to use a spatula to break it into pieces. The sauce should thicken.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the jackfruit carnitas, spreading it out across the pan. Let it cook for several minutes to brown and crisp the bottom. Then use a spatula to turn the carnitas and cook on the other side, letting it sit in the skillet until browned.
  • Serve carnitas with vegan tacos, burritos, vegan nachos, salads, and more!

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Nutrition Facts
Jackfruit Carnitas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 139 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 400mg17%
Potassium 534mg15%
Carbohydrates 28g9%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 21g23%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 220IU4%
Vitamin C 29mg35%
Calcium 45mg5%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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